Successful leaders know that effective communications are a competitive advantage. As you begin 2017, make a resolution to evaluate the health of your employee communications. Are business goals and actions aligned? Do employees understand priorities and do they have a way to participate and share ideas?
Everyone talks about the importance of communications, but it’s just lip service without an actionable plan. Here are four ways to achieve better communications in your ESOP in 2017.
1) Map out your communications calendar right now—Begin with a “Welcome to 2017” message. Schedule dates for the entire year now to ensure it remains a priority. Keep the content fresh with a mix of performance results, customer and employee stories, and encouragement. We all need more of that.
2) Articulate the vision— If a customer asks an employee what your business was about, what would they say? Everyone on your team should use the same headline. When people can connect their work to big goals, they are more engaged. Leaders who communicate the vision and values, then put those values into action, see performance climb.
3) Use stories to make an impact—Think back to the most recent story that struck a chord with you. Was it complicated or overstuffed with facts? Simple stories make an emotional connection with the audience and hold their attention. Use your own experiences to make a point. Leaders who share a little of themselves in communications are viewed as credible and human.
4) Get visual—Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. If you rely on email as your primary form of communication, there is a better way. In 2016, there were 4.6 billion cell phone users in the world and most phones have video or photo capability. Your team members are viewing or creating visual media every day. Use photos and video as frequently as you use memos. Video is an excellent way to improve message retention, connect with remote workers, and engage senior leadership with teams. The best part is you don’t have to have a large budget or be an on-camera pro. If you’re sincere, it will be memorable.
October is Employee Ownership Month. Are you ready? Celebrate your employee owners and the company’s success by hosting some of these fun company-wide events:
- Volunteer for a Cause
Find a local service project that aligns with the company’s values and spend a day volunteering. Group service is a great teambuilding exercise and provides an opportunity for employees to connect outside of a work setting. Note: Make sure to call the charity ahead of time to let them know the size of your group so they can accommodate your team.
- Host a Lunch ‘n Learn with a Leadership Speaker
Ask employees to vote on a topic they would like to learn about, but give them some ideas like retirement, health, and wellness or personal development. Hire an external speaker or create a panel of employees to talk about the topic most voted. Serve lunch and people are sure to show up hungry and eager to learn.
- Create and Compete in an Old Fashioned Field Day
A little healthy competition never hurt anyone. Divide into teams and create reasonable obstacles and races to compete in. Everyone will enjoy the fresh air and the light competition is a great way for employees to blow off steam and bond.
- Throw a Theme Party
What better way to celebrate than with a party? Choose a theme like the ’80s or Hollywood, and have everyone come into work dressed in costume. Business as usual in the morning, then take the afternoon off and throw a party; provide food, games, and maybe even host a costume contest.
Employee Ownership Month provides you with the perfect opportunity to promote employee ownership. Make it fun. Be sure to acknowledge and recognize the positive contributions of your employee owners.
If you need more ideas, visit our website to view our Employee Ownership toolkit: www.nesteggcommunications.com.
Here’s a quick test. Crumble a piece of paper and toss it in the hallway. Then watch and wait. How many people walk by it before someone picks it up? That’s your ownership culture barometer.
When consultants speak of “building an ownership culture” in ESOP companies, what they really mean is employee engagement.
Do your employees care about the place they work? Employee engagement is the commitment that individuals have to their company. It’s the belief that the company is on the right track, that it values my contributions, and that my work makes a difference.
Whether you call it ownership or engagement, the result is the same: employees who care go the extra mile. They create tangible value for the business. Take a look at the research data:
- Fully engaged employees return 135% of their salary in value–Center for Talent Retention
- Moving from low to high engagement can result in a 21% increase in performance—Corporate Executive Board
- Business units in top quartile of engagement outperform those in bottom quartile:
- 50% higher in productivity
- 44% higher in profitability
- 50% higher in customer satisfaction —Gallup
I think this quote from Simon Sinek underlines the opportunity for ESOP companies: “When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.”
For more, visit the Nest Egg Communications blog
Over the last year, the business community has been abuzz about Gallup’s latest study on employee engagement which revealed the awful truth that only 3 in 10 American workers are truly engaged. Since then, articles about keeping employees “happy” with free perks and bonuses have abounded. Perks are nice, but maybe there’s a better way to inspire team members to take initiative, commit to the culture, and be more productive.
According to Gallup CEO, Jim Clifton, decades-long studies on engagement has shown that employees are engaged when their deeper needs to feel valued, grow and develop, maximize their strengths and make a meaningful contribution are fulfilled.
The results of Gallup’s studies point to three specific things employees need to feel good about their jobs and be fully engaged. Here are suggestions you can use to make these three elements work for your company:
Employees want to know you care about them and their development – When you truly believe employees are the company’s most valuable asset, it shines through in the frequency and manner in which you communicate with them. Let them know specifically how the company is working. Show them how business success boosts their personal success. Share information about important changes and initiatives as freely as possible and think “collaboration” not “command and control.”
Employees want a job that matches their strengths – Every role presents interpersonal and character growth opportunities. Help employees understand their strengths and how that builds the business. When employees deliver their roles with skill, it builds confidence and engagement.
Employees want a sense of purpose in their jobs – Chances are, your employees believe – or used to believe – in your company’s mission or purpose – what you contribute to the world at large. Keep this purpose at the core of your communications. Be sure you regularly articulate the relationship of the work done every day to deliver your mission.
Let us know how you are able to engage your employees, and what challenges we can help you with. We can help you capture your employees connect the dots between their jobs, and their needs and ownership culture.
For more, visit the Nest Egg Communications blog
The single most important characteristic of a successful ESOP is ownership culture. Profitability and growth are assured when employees are invested and involved. Your Communications Committee can play a significant role in building employee engagement, yet in discussions with ESOP leaders, some say it’s difficult to even get volunteers for the Communications Committee.
What can you do? Start small and build on success. Empower your Communications Committee and position them for success by doing these things:
Set clear goals
The Communications Committee should have a clear mission statement and bylaws to outline members’ duties and responsibilities. Put guidelines in place to address issues like how the committee works representation, term limits, and the member election process. Make it part of the committee’s responsibilities to set goals and develop strategies to improve communications within the company. Measure the results to determine what worked.
Ask employees what you should stop/start/continue
Most communication committees are tasked with educating and explaining the ESOP and acting as the bridge between the employees and company leadership. One of the best ways to do this is to ask frontline employees what they think about the ESOP. There are many free online survey programs, like Survey Monkey, Zoho and Typeform that you can use to check in with employees. Get specific about your current communications and education and find out if it’s working or how it can improve. And remember, when you ask for feedback, act on it. Otherwise, you may create dis-engagement.
Be sure to involve team members from all employment levels. This means that you’ll need to encourage some people who don’t want to be involved. But here’s a secret: the naysayers bring perspectives that may not have been considered previously. Once they are involved, they are fantastic emissaries for your ESOP.
Interested in creating a Communications Committee for your company? Need ideas on what to communicate? We’ve got that covered. Visit our website to view our 12-month communications toolkit.
For more, visit the Nest Egg Communications blog